Our Goals, Values, and Principles

Our Goals

We seek to:

  • Create a national finding aid network that is community-driven, community-sustained, and community-governed.
  • Scale discovery and access to a national level that is as comprehensive as possible.
  • Increase usable access to unique resources for the broadest possible range of users.
  • Support the broadest possible range of contributing institutions and minimize barriers to participation.
The Core Values and Principles That Guide Our Work

We believe that:

  • We must design our work with sustainability in mind from the outset. Any community-led solution that we implement must be calibrated to the available resources (time, expertise, funding) among stakeholders, including aggregators and individual contributing institutions.
  • The value of a national finding aid network must be clearly articulated and substantiated. It is important to accurately describe the problems we are trying to solve and the value that the network can provide, with qualitative and quantitative indicators to support those propositions.
  • The network must support meaningful, inclusive, and low-barrier pathways to participation by cultural heritage institutions across the United States. We acknowledge that power, privilege, and control from predominantly white collecting institutions has led to the exploitation and erasure of marginalized communities in society, in our collections, and in our profession. In carrying out our work, we are mindful of countering this history by providing benefits to participation and not reproducing exploitative and extractive collecting models.
  • We must base our long term plans for the network on our research findings rather than current assumptions or the status quo. The network must address a broad range of needs across distinct cultural heritage institutions and researchers. We will treat these information needs respectfully and work to design a system that equitably supports multiple user groups. 
  • We must utilize technologies and standards that promote open sharing and global distribution of knowledge. We will seek to employ open source solutions and provide open access to finding aid data wherever possible. 
  • Perfection is the enemy of the good. We will abandon it in service of focused and tangible outcomes.
How We Conduct Our Work on This Project

We will:

  • Ground our research, technical assessment, community engagement, sustainability, and governance planning activities in an ethics of care. We will slow down our processes when necessary to reflect, respond to, and be transparent with participating communities, and to create opportunities for equitable contributions from partners throughout the project. We will prioritize self-care for ourselves and for each other.
  • Ensure that trust-building is a core part of our processes on this project. We acknowledge that this takes time to develop: we will be patient with ourselves, each other, and the communities we seek to work with. 
  • Compensate individuals for personal time they will invest in our research and development efforts, as fairly as possible with allowable project funds, when inviting volunteers from already marginalized communities to share knowledge with us.